Saturday, January 13, 2007

Find Out Who's Selling Your Email Address to Spammers!

Here's a nifty trick you can use to see who's selling you out...your email address, that is. Every time you fill out a web form that requires an email address, you probably feel a bit nervous about your privacy. Will they sell your email address to spammers? One way spammers get your email address is by combing the web for any addresses that are listed on web pages, so if you have a web site that has your email address on it, you can be sure it'll get snapped up by these programs. But sometimes unscrupulous web site operators will sell you out, and the email address you entrusted to them ends up in the wrong hands. Then that address gets spammed out the wazoo. To prevent this, you can use a disposable email address generator (there are many available on the web). The problem with these is, if you forget your password for a site, they will send it to the address you registered with, which will no longer exist.

My solution: Use a Gmail trick to find out who might be selling you out. Gmail has an interesting quirk where you can add a plus sign (+) after your Gmail address, and it'll still get to your inbox. It's called plus-addressing, and it essentially gives you an unlimited number of e-mail addresses to play with. Here's how it works: say your address is barry@gmail.com, and you want to use it to register at nytimes.com. Use the address barry+nytimes@gmail.com instead. Then you can set up a filter to send any mail that comes to that address to the trash (to access your filters go to Settings->Filters and create a filter for messages addressed to barry+nytimes@gmail.com).

Like I said. Nifty.